Travel by Starlight

by Stephanie L. Harper

  • Poetry
decorative header image from Volume IV Issue 2 · Spring 2018

The map has led me to this unsought future
but I’ve come to cosset its every unfolding

like an aging cottonwood learns to curl its roots
around the creatures born in the forest loam

Still   in the starlight of dreams   I often return
to that course I used to wind through the rural Midwest

& immerse myself again in late summer’s haze
of primroses   columbines   & great hay rolls

all drowsing along the twilit roadside   I drive
past the cornstalks’ muggy throngs reaching

their nascent fingers to wrest the last sun-drops
from the dome’s milky yawn   until the oaks

grow drunk with nightfall   & the winged hosts
soused among their leaves all break into song

to wake me to my life
           a map on its head:

East has become west   & west east
for the Northern Lights always inviting

themselves to swim on my horizon

Though I’d have once been glad to drown
in the luminescent breath of such interlopers

I now see their hold on me was only fleeting—&
that tonight’s reverie was no more solemn   nor less

gratuitous   than it was to mistake the crackle from
my gas fireplace I must have dreamed

for a memory

photo by Ellen Schoenmaker

photo by Ellen Schoenmaker

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About Author Stephanie L. Harper
Portrait image of author Stephanie L. Harper.
Stephanie L. Harper lives with her family in Hillsboro, OR. She got her B.A. from Grinnell College in 1992 in English and German, and received an M.A. in German literature from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She excelled in the thorough disillusionment module of her Master of Divinity program at the Northwest House of Theological Studies [in consortium with the Pacific School of Religion in Berkley, CA. Harper is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and author of the chapbook, This Being Done (Finishing Line Press., June 2018) Her poems appear in the 2016 anthology, Stories That Need to Be Told, a TulipTree Publishing, LLC anthology, as well as in many other journals.